Analysis: Fintech disruption should inspire us all

New fintech companies have galvanised business communities with record global investment of $5.4 billion registered in the first quarter of 2018.

The internet is awash with content on how to break free of the shackles of corporate life and start your own business.

A plethora of commentators, from self-proclaimed lifestyle gurus to financial journalists, often enthuse that anyone is capable of escaping the grind to turn potential into profits.

Fears of starting out on your own can, of course, be founded in reality. The latest report from the IMF does point towards a bumpy future for UK firms in 2019 and beyond. Growth in 2019 has been cut from 1.6 per cent to 1.5 per cent and it warned that momentum was ‘not assured.’

Trumps’ tricky tariffs

Unemployment reaching historic lows will encourage inflation which is already above the government’s target of 2 per cent. And Donald Trump’s trade policies do look risky-he hit UK steel and aluminium manufacturers with 25 per cent tariffs in March- which triggered the European Commission to give US makers of bourbon drinks, peanut butter and others with tariff threats of their own. If the tariffs escalate, it could lead to a trade war which would have ‘no winners’ says Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner. All this could mean emerging technology takes longer to reach consumers, hitting profits.

Fintech investment booming

But, of course, this is fear talking. 2018 is projected to be the strongest year for growth since 2011. The UK is roaring ahead when it comes to tech investment – £3 billion from venture capital (VC) firms in 2017 to be precise- that’s more than Germany, France, Ireland and Sweden combined.

Fintech has been one of the big winners and one of the leading players, digital bank Monzo, is attempting to create a Facebook-esque platform to help consumers save money. They have even employed one of Facebook’s partner managers in Phil Hewinson who is trying to recreate the social media’s success at Monzo. One billion users is the ultimate aim.

The UK fintech sector, which counts money transfer firm TransferWise and investment platform Nutmeg among its ranks, has been so far Brexit-proof and the average fintech backing hit £6.8 million in the same year-up 93 per cent on 2015.

Its marketplace vision, which features a range of energy, insurance and savings providers, is that it’ll make money by helping customers to save and manage their money, rather than flogging a financial product that offers the highest commission.

Learning from Facebook’s mistakes

With Facebook on the ropes about its privacy policy, there’s an opportunity for fintech companies to show that they can be a force for good, while keeping customer data safe.

If the burgeoning tech sector can use customer data in the right ways and keep it safe, it should continue its rapid rise and lend encouragement to those hoping to go it alone.

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for from 2018 to 2019.

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